The Reader's Digest article that put Albuquerque Charter Vocational High School in the national spotlight was titled "Fixing America's Schools."
Oddly enough, the national story prompted a local inquiry that has landed school founder Danny Moon -- and the charter school's governing board -- in hot water. Now the state wants the problems fixed. Evidence has surfaced that Moon misused school funds and property and directed staff to keep "ghost students" on attendance logs to collect tens of thousands of dollars that Charter Vocational High School and a sister school weren't entitled to...
The Albuquerque Charter Vocational High School is one of the state's most high-profile charter schools and has even been touted by Gov. Bill Richardson.
The Reader's Digest article in May called the school a place that "could transform America's classrooms."
The magazine praised Moon for getting the "hardest-to reach" students interested in learning.
Some of Moon's neighbors read the article with interest, especially the part that mentioned students had built sheds as part of their schoolwork.
Moon had a storage shed on the Paradise Hills lot where he was building a new house, the neighbors noticed. They contacted state Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, with their suspicions after also watching vehicles with government license plates going back and forth from the construction site…
Moon is superintendent of both schools at an annual salary of $175,000.
Investigators concluded Moon used a state vehicle and credit card for personal use and took home a student-built storage shed without paying for it…
"Upon information and belief," her letter stated, "Mr. Moon has intentionally caused or directed subordinate staff" to report students as enrolled even though they had dropped out or were no longer in class.
The inflated enrollment counts resulted in the schools collecting tens of thousands of dollars extra each semester. The state pays roughly $3,000 per student enrolled.
Garcia's letter also criticized the boards for permitting Moon to hire family members as contractors...* * * * * *
FORMER SUPERINTENDENT TO GO TO TRIAL, February 7, 2010, KRQE News 13 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Nearly five year's ago, Larry Barker exposed a charter school accused of cooking the books and cheating taxpayers. The former superintendent's racketeering and fraud trail will start on Monday...
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CHARTER SCHOOL FOUNDER DIES, April 8, 2010, Albuquerque Journal
Danny Moon, who founded Albuquerque Charter Vocational High School, died from pneumonia complications Monday,
Moon, 60, was facing 63 counts related to his alleged misuse of funds and credit cards at the school. The charges included racketeering, fraud over $20,000, fraudulent use of a credit card, conspiracy, making or permitting false public vouchers, and embezzlement.
An initial trial for Moon began in February, but a mistrial was declared after Moon's health degenerated, and he was unable to continue. He collapsed after the third day of the trial.
His wife and daughter also faced two counts each in the charter school case. District Attorney's Office spokesman Pat Davis said prosecutors have not decided whether to pursue those charges.
"They were very superficial co-conspirators in this matter," he said...